Setting up a capable workforce to identify, assess and manage family violence risk

Universal service systems that are available to all community members are ideally placed to play a much greater role in identifying family violence at the earliest possible stage. Associated systems such as Integrated Family Services, mental health and drug and alcohol services, aged care, and the health and education systems must play a more direct role in identifying and responding to family violence.

In order to achieve this, mainstream services will need to boost their family violence capability. Theses workforces need to recognise signs that family violence may be occurring and know what to do next to ensure safety.

Royal Commission into Family Violence:(opens in a new window) summary and recommendations.

Departments with framework organisations within their portfolios have developed substantial resources and invested in training and support to prepare workforces to align with MARAM.

This work has included:

  • frameworks and strategies — whole-of-government and tailored strategies with a focus on workforce capability building which is aligned to MARAM
  • resources and support for use by current and future staff — in addition to the consistent management systems and tools established across the service system, workforces are receiving specific MARAM resources and support for use in their work
  • training — whole-of-government and tailored training is being delivered to all current workforces, and planned for future workforces

Workforce development: strategies, support and capacity building

Capacity building is taking place across the service sector.

Sector grants for sector capacity building programs

Across the system, peak bodies and statewide services have a role in developing standards, processes, and capability for their members to align with MARAM. The peak bodies also play an important role in communicating changes to standards, processes and government expectations.

With this pivotal role in mind, government has provided grants (in total nearly $1.5 million in 2018–19) to 11 key peaks and member organisations to support organisations in their relevant sectors to:

  • implement the FVIS and CIS Schemes and MARAM in a consistent way
  • support existing communities of practice or develop new ones
  • provide expert input to the core resources
  • develop initiatives to cater to diverse communities

In addition, six grants were provided to Aboriginal organisations to:

  • tailor or develop resources for their member organisations
  • share key learnings and develop resources across Aboriginal organisations
  • provide an expert Aboriginal lens on the general sector grants efforts

Sector grants in action

Examples for how the sector grants have been used include the following:

  • the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) has used funding of $101,000 to support implementation, establish an Alcohol and Other Drug Family Violence Network (bringing together sector practitioners to promote collaborative practice). VAADA is also developing a Family Violence Capability Framework to articulate the appropriate knowledge and skills required in the sector
  • the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has been funded $130,000 to support maternal and child health services to align to MARAM, including the development of tailored implementation resources
  • Maternal and Child Health (MCH) will be using funding of $130,000 to develop tailored MCH resources
  • the Council to Homeless Persons will use funding of $101,000 to collaborate with broader peaks such as No to Violence and Domestic Violence Victoria to work in partnership on strategies and practice guidance to build sector capacity

The grant recipients are:

  • CASA Forum
  • Consumer Affairs (DJCS)
  • Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
  • Council to Homeless Persons (CHP)
  • Drummond St Services on behalf of (with respect)
  • Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic)
  • Elizabeth Morgan House
  • Justice Health (DJCS)
  • Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)
  • No to Violence (NTV)
  • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA)
  • Youth Justice (DJCS)

Aboriginal organisations:

  • Dardi Munwurro
  • Djirra
  • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL)
  • VACCHO (funded until Dec 2019) and will participate in meetings until June 2020

DJCS Family Violence Workforce Development Strategy

DJCS is developing a Workforce Development Strategy which has the following objectives:

  • an integrated approach to building family violence capability across the department
  • all DJCS staff possess family violence knowledge and skills appropriate for their role and function, so that there is a shared understanding of this violence and the role that DJCS can play in its interactions with the broader family violence and universal service systems
  • future workers to have the requisite capabilities in responding to family violence upon entry and ensure all staff receive relevant family violence professional development throughout their career in DJCS
  • workforce development supports implementation of best practice approaches in responding to those subjected to or perpetrating family violence including risk assessment and management

The Strategy implements the MARAM Framework and focuses on embedding MARAM into existing DJCS policies, processes, practices and learning and development initiatives.

All agencies within DJCS are involved in the development of the Strategy.

DJCS Central Learning Repository / Family Violence Portal

DJCS is developing a Central Learning Repository or portal that will be accessible to funded agencies. It will contain a suite of MARAM materials customised for justice settings to support MARAM alignment.

This will be available in 2019–20 and will be accessible to all DJCS funded agencies.

Youth Justice

The Youth Parole Board Secretariat is working with FSV to develop an adolescent-specific component of family violence risk assessment, with the purpose of developing a coordinated and MARAM-aligned service response for adolescents who use family violence.

Additionally, the Youth Parole Board Secretariat will participate in program-specific reviews that will outline emerging practice and guide future learning in relation to family violence. The Secretariat will become involved in departmental pilot projects to trial new approaches, address service gaps and improve the effectiveness of family violence interventions for young people in contact with the justice system.

Corrections Victoria

Corrections Victoria will continue to align with the Specialist Family Violence Pathway.

Within its broader service delivery model, Corrections Victoria operates a Specialist Family Violence Pathway to address family violence perpetration. The Pathway allows the discrete identification of family violence perpetrators, and provides a pathway that targets family violence specific treatment needs. The Specialist Family Violence Pathway extends to perpetrators of family violence who are:

  • on remand (unsentenced)
  • sentenced to a term of imprisonment
  • subject to a community correction order

The differentiated service response to perpetrators of family violence is shaped by a number of key practice principles, which extend and translate Corrections Victoria’s strategic frameworks into an evidence-based, targeted, and specialist service response.

As family violence does not always result in a criminal offence, and perpetrators of family violence may be in prison for other offences, identifying family violence is complex. Corrections Victoria has adopted criteria for the identification of family violence perpetrators in accordance with the definition of family violence in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. During their intake process, offenders and prisoners are identified as family violence perpetrators, and therefore suitable for the Specialist Family Violence Pathway, based on these criteria.

The 2019 Corrections Victoria Family Violence Action Plan proposes a review of the Specialist Family Violence Pathway. The Pathway will be aligned with the MARAM perpetrator practice guidance once it is released.

Mental health and alcohol and other drugs

The Royal Commission into Family Violence found that mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) services must play a more direct role in identifying and responding to family violence, noting the need for health services to build capacity in these areas, and develop closer relationships with specialist family violence services.

In response to this recommendation, to improve understanding and capability in these workforces, specialist family violence advisor positions have been funded in these services to provide expert support and advice in identifying, recognising and responding to family violence.

The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) is developing a family violence capability framework to guide and support AOD organisations with a better understanding of family violence across the sector which will align with MARAM. The framework articulates the appropriate knowledge and skills required to identify and respond to family violence. The framework will shape training, professional development programs and qualifications to align with the desired capabilities for family violence practice.

Child protection

The Family Violence Child Protection Partnership was implemented in response to Recommendation 26 of the Royal Commission, which called for flexible responses when family violence is present in a child protection context.

Recommendation 26 - 'The Department of Health and Human Services develop and strengthen practice guidelines and if necessary propose legislative amendments to require Child Protection — in cases where family violence is indicated in reports to Child Protection and is investigated but the statutory threshold for protective intervention is not met — [within 12 months] to:

Ensure the preparation of a comprehensive and robust safety plan, either by Child Protection or by a specialist family violence service

Make formal referrals for families to relevant services — including specialist family violence services, family and child services, perpetrator interventions, and the recommended Support and Safety Hubs, once established

Make formal referrals for children and young people to specialist services — including counselling services — if children or young people are affected by family violence or use violence.’

Royal Commission into Family Violence(opens in a new window): summary and recommendations.

The Partnership, which is managed by Family Safety Victoria, co-locates 17 specialist family violence practitioners and 12 senior family violence child protection practitioners in child protection offices across Victoria.

These positions strengthen child protection practitioners’ family violence knowledge and skills.

Housing delivered by DHHS

DHHS is currently undertaking the Strengthening Public Housing Practice in Family Violence Project which aims to build a shared understanding of family violence and workforce capability in identification and response to family violence for housing officers. A forum with senior managers will also be followed by a face-to-face training program across the state for up to 500 housing officers. This is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2020.

Maternal and Child Health

The 2017–18 State Budget included budget for an additional MCH consultation for families at risk of or experiencing family violence.

This additional family violence consultation aims to allow MCH practitioners to provide greater support to families in a way that best suits their needs and can be provided at any point in the family’s engagement with the service. This includes assessing and managing family violence risk and safety planning as required by Pillar 3 of MARAM.

MCH practitioners are supported to deliver this visit through the provision of tailored professional development.

Example of the MCH family violence consultations in practice

Katie is a 26 year old mother of a 12-month old baby boy. She lives with her partner Karl and his family. Katie’s extended family live overseas and she has no other family support here in Australia.

Katie has been attending the local MCH Centre. During her last visit, Katie disclosed many incidents of family violence.

The MCH nurse called the Family Violence Practitioner (FVP), who completed a comprehensive risk assessment and deemed her to be at high risk. A safety plan was devised. The FVP made a referral for family violence support, housing support and a notification to Child Protection. The FVP attended the Magistrates Court with Katie the following day to apply for an intervention order (IVO), which was granted immediately.

The FVP met with Katie again to devise an ‘escape plan’, as Karl was due home from overseas. Safe Steps provided accommodation for five nights until she was approved for a private rental property. The FVP attended the housing service with Katie to advocate for bond assistance and the first month’s rent and sourced funding for second hand furniture to furnish her new home. The FVP followed up with the family violence support service to ensure Katie would receive access to the Flexi Support Package (FSP)

Specialist family violence practitioners: perpetrators

FSV has established and is evaluating three streams of perpetrator interventions which align with MARAM to encourage perpetrators to acknowledge and take responsibility to end their violent, controlling and coercive behaviour. Principle 9 of the MARAM Framework: perpetrators should be encouraged to acknowledge and take responsibility to end their violent, controlling and coercive behaviour, and service responses to perpetrators should be collaborative and coordinated through a system-wide approach that collectively and systematically creates opportunities for perpetrator accountability. These interventions also raise capabilities in working with perpetrators.

Example case study provided by No to Violence

Alan was referred to a men’s behavioural change program (MBCP) following an incident with his girlfriend. Ongoing verbal abuse had escalated to physical violence. Upon referral, Alan reported significant mental health and drug and alcohol issues, and that he had been diagnosed with ADHD. Alan was referred to a trial program designed to work specifically with perpetrators with cognitive impairment and was assessed as having a significant undiagnosed communication disorder.

Alan is benefitting from the slower pace and structured breaks, which assists him with communication, attention, concentration and fatigue. Alan is engaged in the group process and is showing evidence of increased awareness of his behaviour. He is now recognising patterns of verbal abuse as family violence, its impact on others and shows insight. Alan continues to be motivated to change and has reported that instead of responding in a violent, abusive he ‘take[s] a deep breath walk[s] away for couple minutes’.

After a successful trial, perpetrator case management is now receiving ongoing funding. The purpose of case management is to provide an individualised and flexible response to address the needs of individual perpetrators, such as those with issues of alcohol and other drug (AOD) misuse, homelessness and mental health concerns. Since the start of the trial, perpetrator case management has provided a service response to over 900 clients.

Seven community-based perpetrator intervention trials have taken place to respond to critical gaps by delivering interventions to cohorts not adequately serviced by existing responses and to build the evidence base. This includes culturally and linguistically diverse perpetrators including new and emerging communities and Aboriginal communities. To date these seven trials have engaged over 100 participants.

In addition, Caring Dads is a 17-week early intervention program for fathers who use violence. The program focuses on the effect that a father’s violent behaviour has on their child and the child’s mother, encouraging responsibility for actions and developing skills in parenting. To date, the trial has provided interventions to more than 300 fathers and has also provided a service response to the children and mothers affected by the family violence.

Specialist family violence practitioners: adolescents who use violence

Principle 10 of the MARAM Framework requires a specialised response to adolescents who use family violence. Principle 10 of the MARAM Framework is that family violence used by adolescents is a distinct form of family violence and requires a different response to family violence used by adults, because of their age and the possibility that they are also victim survivors of family violence.

FSV currently funds three pilot programs focused on adolescents who use family violence. These services meet the needs of approximately 240 adolescents who use violence and their families.

The Orange Door Bayside Peninsula is working collaborative with Barwon Child Youth and Family (BCYF) to increase a shared understanding of adolescents who use family violence and enable sensitive and safe engagement with adolescents and their families.

FSV is in the early stages of designing and delivering a service model that is specific to Aboriginal young people and their families and aligned to Dhelk Dja. Funding is available for two years to enable this important work.

FSV is also working on comprehensive adolescent family violence practice guidance development and additional services responses, which will be reincorporated into the suite of MARAM Practice Guides and resources.

Specialist family violence practitioners: service for LGBTIQ families

w/respect, the new LGBTIQ family violence integrated specialist service, provides counselling, case management and recovery support services to people from LGBTIQ communities experiencing or using family violence.

The first of its kind in Australia, the w/respect service comprises a partnership of four well-known and respected LGBTIQ organisations — Drummond Street Services, Thorne Harbour Health, Switchboard Victoria and Transgender Victoria — supported by ongoing Victorian Government funding of $1 million.

The w/respect website in a new window), which was formally launched at the Braiding Knowledge forum on 3 September 2018 by the Special Minister for State, the Hon. Gavin Jennings, provides comprehensive material on LGBTIQ family violence for mainstream service providers and first points of contact.

Specialist family violence practitioners: services for diverse communities

Principle 8 of MARAM requires that services and responses provided to diverse communities should be accessible, culturally responsive and safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory. In recognition of this, and to support culturally appropriate case management and family violence counselling, FSV is continuing to fund inTouch for family violence services. InTouch is a specialist family violence service that works with multicultural women, their families and their communities.

Victoria Police

As part of its reform program to improve its response to family violence, Victoria Police has established new Family Violence Investigation Units (FVIUs). FVIUs have been established within each police division and will be fully resourced by specialist detectives by January 2020. Each unit is led by a Detective Senior Sergeant and is supported by a team of detectives, intelligence officers, Family Violence Court Liaison Officers and dedicated police lawyers.

The FVIUs have the following functions:

  • investigate serious and complex cases
  • manage high-risk, complex and repeat cases
  • support general duties police and specialist units

Once cases are received from frontline police, the FVIU utilises the Case Prioritisation and Response Model (refer to the ‘Victoria Police Family Violence Response Model’ section) to triage and determine the interventions required.

The FVIUs are fulfilling Pillar 3 of MARAM, enabling specialist police to assess and manage family violence risk.

The roll-out of specialist police in the FVIUs began in July 2018 and will continue into the next reporting period. By January 2020, there will be 415 specialist police roles focused on family violence and sexual offences across Victoria, who will receive targeted family violence training.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) delivers the Financial Counselling Program (FCP) and the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) through community organisations prescribed to align with MARAM.

To support change management, CAV has employed a part-time sector support officer whose role is to support the professional development of the FCP and TAAP workforce. This position will continue in 2019–20 to deliver tailored support for MARAM alignment.

Capacity building: an intersectional lens

Principles 7 and 8 of MARAM focus on services and responses to family violence being culturally responsive and safe for Aboriginal communities and diverse communities and older people.

Intersectionality Capacity Building project

Assessing and managing family violence risk with an intersectional lens is a key element of the MARAM Framework.

FSV’s Intersectionality Capacity Building project will develop a suite of resources to support capacity building to better understand, recognise and respond to the needs of people with lived experience of family violence underpinned by an intersectionality framework to align with MARAM.

The resources will support a whole-of-organisational approach for different service sectors to adopt and embed an intersectional approach to their work in responding to family violence.

Rainbow Health Victoria

Funding has been provided to Rainbow Health Victoria to develop and deliver a training module to help staff in family violence services understand the dynamics of family violence against people in LGBTIQ communities.

To encourage inclusive services, and to support LGBTIQ Victorians to feel confident in seeking support, FSV has funded 28 family violence service providers across the state to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation. Rainbow Tick is a national accreditation program for organisations that are committed to safe and inclusive practice and service delivery for people from LGBTIQ communities. FSV has also funded Rainbow Health Victoria to develop and deliver a training module to help staff in family violence services understand the dynamics of family violence against people in LGBTIQ communities.

Aboriginal LGBTIQ people deal with overlapping forms of discrimination and power imbalances, including racism, and homophobia and/or transphobia. Responding to the need for an intersectional lens in practice, six Aboriginal organisations are currently funded by FSV to undergo Rainbow Tick accreditation.

Statewide inclusion advisors

Three statewide inclusion advisor positions are being piloted to build understanding and skills in the service system in relation to family violence for people from LGBTIQ communities, people with a disability, and women in or exiting prison.

The roles focus on building capacity within the sector to meet Principle 8, that services and responses provided to diverse communities and older people should be accessible, culturally responsive and safe, client-centred, inclusive and non-discriminatory. The roles also help services include an intersectional lens in their practice, as outlined in the MARAM Practice Guides and tools.

The advisors are:

  • LGBTIQ inclusion advisor based at Domestic Violence Victoria and enhancing LGBTIQ inclusion in the family violence sector
  • disability inclusion advisors based at Domestic Violence Victoria in partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria leading the development of guidance to improve inclusion of people with disabilities, and improving identification and response
  • Family Violence Justice based at Flat Out Inc. raising awareness of the circumstances and complex needs of women who have been in prison and experienced family violence

The Orange Door and Aboriginal Advisory Groups

To ensure a culturally safe and responsive service for Aboriginal people aligning with MARAM Principle 7, Aboriginal Advisory Groups (AAGs) have been established. The role of the AAGs is to inform decision making about operations of The Orange Door, in relation to the needs of Aboriginal communities across The Orange Door catchment area, and support engagement of Aboriginal services within The Orange Door.

AAGs have been established during the reporting period in the following areas:

  • North Eastern Melbourne (established August 2018)
  • Bayside Peninsula (established October 2018)
  • Mallee (established November 2018)
  • Inner Gippsland (established May 2019)

Cultural responsiveness in The Orange Door

In 2018–19, a project was initiated to support The Orange Door in the first five areas to ensure they are culturally responsive and foster connections with local multicultural organisations. This project will continue into 2019–20.

Koori Justice Unit

The Koori Justice Unit (KJU) provide MARAM alignment support to Dardi Munwurro and Djirra for Ngarra Jarranounith Place (Woi Wurrung for Men’s Healing Place) and the Koori Women’s Place, which are MARAM prescribed programs.

KJU manages the contract with Dardi Munwurro and Djirra to deliver:

  • Ngarra Jarranounith Place (NJP), which is a program designed and delivered by Dardi Munwurro for men who use, or are at risk of using, family violence to make positive changes in their lives. The program offers intensive one-on-one support and group activities to reconnect with culture, take responsibility, and develop healthy relationships
  • the Koori Women’s Place (KWP), which is a program designed and delivered by Djirra for Aboriginal women and their families in their journey to safety and recovery from family violence with comprehensive wrap-around, trauma-informed support, referrals and legal advice

Resources and workforce support

All workforces need to be supported in the delivery of MARAM-aligned practice with appropriate resources.

To prepare workforces, a range of MARAM-aligned products and tools have been developed.

MARAM victim survivor focused practice guides

To support professionals in their risk assessment and management practice, FSV produced victim survivor focused MARAM Practice Guides and tools, publicly released in July 2019.

The MARAM Practice Guides include key foundational knowledge, followed by practice guides and tools specific to each of the 10 responsibilities. The practice guides incorporate every pillar, principle and responsibility identified within the MARAM Framework.

The MARAM Practice Guides demonstrate how professionals across the service system should embed the MARAM pillars and responsibilities in their day-to-day work. In doing this, they are transformational, supporting services to engage differently with people when conducting family violence risk identification, assessments and management activities. They give professionals the confidence to understand and respond to the different presentations of risk for different forms of family violence, in different relationships and across communities.

Feedback from the user testing process by specialist family violence practitioners includes:

‘The [MARAM Practice] Guides will create consistent risk assessments in The Orange Door and across the entire service system.’

‘[Children] have been long-forgotten victim survivors, but this brings them right to the front and that is important.’

Perpetrator-focused MARAM Practice Guide and risk assessment tools

Perpetrator-focused MARAM Practice Guides and risk assessment tools are currently being developed. These are expected to be published in 2020. It is anticipated the perpetrator-focused MARAM Practice Guides will include:

  • a behaviour assessment tool to identify behaviours that may indicate a service user is using family violence
  • a perpetrator-dangerousness risk assessment tool to assess the level of danger posed by a perpetrator

It is envisaged there will either be indicators of recidivism within the perpetrator-dangerousness tool or a third tool will be created. This work will build on existing evidence-based risk factors outlined in the MARAM Framework.

These tools and guidance are a significant innovation in terms of perpetrator response design and will be the first time in any jurisdiction that this approach has been taken.

The tools will also provide critical support for framework organisations in understanding how to align to the MARAM and meet their responsibilities with respect to perpetrators of family violence. This work is critical in ensuring that the family violence service system holds perpetrators to account for their choice to use violence; and will help ensure that victim survivors are safe.

Further targeted guidance

Future guidance will be developed for working with adolescents who use violence in the home, and for child risk assessment and management.

Such guidance would ensure the service system is appropriately supported to recognise and respond to adolescent family violence in all its forms and complexity.

Youth Justice practice guidelines

Youth Justice developed the Practice Guideline: Understanding and Responding to Family Violence. This guideline outlines requirements for family violence identification (screening), risk assessment and risk management, to be used throughout a young person’s involvement with Youth Justice.

This work supports the understanding of Principle 6 regarding child victim survivors of family violence being victim survivors in their own right, and Principle 10, that family violence used by adolescents requires a different response to family violence used by adults.

Victoria Police

To support implementation of the Family Violence Response Model and changes to frontline and investigative responses, Victoria Police has developed the following practice guides:

  • family violence report (L17) and frontline response
  • family violence investigation units and family violence investigative response
  • family violence roles and responsibilities
  • family violence priority community response

Corrections Victoria

Corrections Victoria has undertaken a preliminary review of the prisons pathway for system-generated risk assessment and management tools and the workforces they impact.

It was determined that Community Correctional Services (CCS) would be the first service delivery-based area to focus on MARAM alignment because the family violence capability within the workforce is more mature. Staff are participating in DJCS Family Violence Foundational Training, and the CCS case management function can be both victim and perpetrator focused.

Corrections Victoria has:

  • developed a new MARAM-aligned practice guideline Managing family violence in community correctional services, which will support practice across CCS. A significant consultation process was undertaken across the department and sector during its development
  • completed scoping for a trial to test the implementation of the CCS guideline. The trial will include three Court Assessment and Prosecution Services teams in locations that experience high volume, and in regions where The Orange Door has been implemented. Teams will test the application of the practice guideline in conjunction with screening tools

Corrections Victoria also launched the Managing Family Violence Guidelines for Prisons, which enables prison staff to report levels of family violence related incidents in prisons, such as verbal abuse, breaching an order while in custody and physical assault.

New non-accredited MARAM training

Prescribed workforces require training alongside the release of tools and practice guidance to use the tools effectively in practice and understand the implications of MARAM on their practice.

To meet the immediate demand for training, departments have developed and are delivering both centralised and tailored training to workforces.

All departments are actively encouraging their workforces to attend central and internal training on MARAM.

Statewide training

A range of centralised training has been delivered during the reporting period.

  • between October 2018 and December 2018, 2,503 professionals received face-to-face training on the FVIS and CIS Schemes with an introduction to MARAM. The training was developed in collaboration between DET and FSV. Ninety-one per cent of those surveyed were satisfied with the face-to-face training. E-learning modules were made available from October 2018 and were completed by 2,147 professionals to the end of June 2019
  • leading Alignment training has been designed to provide organisational leaders with the relevant knowledge to implement MARAM, including the organisational and cultural change it necessitates. During May–June 2019, 646 professionals were trained in Leading Alignment, with 92 per cent of those who completed the qualitative survey satisfied with the overall training
  • comprehensive (Renewing Practice) training in MARAM is for experienced specialist family violence practitioners who have previously completed CRAF training. This training commenced in June 2019, with 502 professionals trained in that month. 84 per cent those who completed the qualitative survey were satisfied with the overall training
  • comprehensive (Newer Family Violence Specialist) MARAM training has been designed for those newer to the sector and not previously CRAF trained. This training commenced on 13 September 2019

In addition to the above modules, FSV has produced two modules for departments to tailor to their workforces:

  • screening and Identification MARAM training is for professionals in universal services and organisations who may identify family violence is occurring and who engage with people in a one-off, episodic or ongoing service environment and are in a position to identify or screen for family violence
  • brief and Intermediate MARAM training is for professionals in non-family violence specific services whose purpose of intervention is linked to family violence but not directly focused on family violence with a focus on assessing and managing risk at this level

These two modules are expected to be delivered from 2020.

Victoria Police

Victoria Police is undertaking a force-wide education program. This includes online learning and face-to-face training to ensure that all operational police impacted by the introduction of the new Family Violence Report (up to and including the rank of Superintendent) will understand:

  • the new Case Prioritisation and Response Model
  • the importance and meaning of the family violence risk factors in the FVR
  • perpetrator tactics
  • counterintuitive victim behaviour
  • how to use the FVR to assess risk, keep victim survivors safer and hold perpetrators to account

In addition, the Centre for Family Violence (CFV) has been established at the Victoria Police Academy. The CFV includes new roles for permanent Family Violence Training Officers at Senior Sergeant level based within their local division. Their role provides dedicated, interactive training to support frontline members. This includes one-on-one advice in the workplace as well as formal classroom training sessions.

The CFV is also delivering training on information sharing.

DHHS information sharing training

DHHS is delivering multi-agency training on the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and Child Information Sharing Scheme to frontline DHHS staff and workers in funded organisations statewide. The training aims to inform and upskill professionals in prescribed workforces to understand the information sharing schemes, and it provides an introduction to the MARAM Framework.

The training explains the purpose and role of information sharing in a family violence context, emphasising how to share information relevant to the identification and management of family violence risk.

The training has been well attended, with 406 staff trained in the 2018–19 calendar year across 135 organisations. Ninety-one per cent of attendees reported in post-training evaluations that they feel ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ in knowing how to share information under the schemes.

DHHS will be tailoring the two MARAM modules on Screening and Identification and Brief and Intermediate risk assessment and management.

Homelessness services

Wodonga Institute of TAFE has been funded to deliver specialist homelessness sector training, including a two-day course, ‘Introduction to homelessness and the social housing sector’. This training focuses on the causal and structural issues surrounding homelessness and current issues that impact the sector, including family violence.

Alcohol and other drugs

Taskforce Community Services has developed a targeted alcohol and other drug group therapy intervention, the U-Turn Program, for those brought before the specialist Family Violence Court in Moorabbin with related alcohol and other drug issues. The model, which is similar to a men’s behaviour change program, aims to reduce the number of intervention order breaches that turn a civil matter into a criminal matter, and reduce the prevalence of family violence in the community.

Taskforce Community Services and Windermere Mental Health Services have collaborated to deliver the Engaging Families program. This program helps families who experience family violence and substance abuse or mental health issues to access counselling services, care and recovery, and parenting supports.

These programs have a MARAM-aligned strategic direction towards improved collaboration and integration across services working with people affected by family violence.

In the next reporting period, specialised training on working with perpetrators will be delivered to both mental health and alcohol and other drugs services. No to Violence and Domestic Violence Victoria have been funded to jointly coordinate to offer both a victim survivor and perpetrator lens to the program.

Maternal and Child Health

A training-needs analysis completed in 2018 led to the development of a family violence professional development plan which aims to build the family violence knowledge, skills and practice of MCH Service practitioners.

An online learning management system will be made available for MCH Service practitioners to train on the FVIS and CIS Schemes, as well as MARAM, building on training that has already been delivered.

Consumer Affairs Victoria customised training

CAV has engaged Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) and Tenants Victoria to develop and deliver FVIS Scheme and MARAM training that is customised for the day-to-day casework of financial counsellors in the Financial Counselling Program (FCP) and tenancy workers in the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP). This will form part of the FCP and TAAP professional development requirements in 2019–20. It is anticipated this training will commence in early 2020.

In addition to this training, there has been a concerted effort to lift family violence capability across the FCP, with most Victorian financial counsellors having attended CRAF training.

Justice Health

All Justice Health staff have attended Family Violence Foundational Training to build a shared understanding of family violence.

Justice Health has also developed an e-learning module on information sharing practice for contracted providers and for Justice Health staff.

Justice Health plans to arrange a tailored training workshop with a specialist family violence service on preparing case notes to include a shared language for the reporting of any family violence. This training is intended to be made available to key staff and contracted provider senior leaders.

Youth Justice training

The Youth Justice workforce is now required to complete the MARAM Framework for Youth Justice e-learning module.

As of 30 June 2019, 774 Youth Justice staff had completed this training — 281 from Community Services, 485 from Custodial Services and eight from the central office.

In 2019, staff from Community Youth Justice and the Custodial Classification and Placement Unit completed a five-day training course on the new Youth Justice case management system, which included training on MARAM and the comprehensive risk assessment tool.

Youth Justice team leaders, team managers and senior practice advisors within Community Youth Justice, together with custodial unit coordinators and members of the Custodial Classification and Placement Unit, completed a one-day training course on the requirements of the FVIS and CIS Schemes.

Additionally, DJCS will tailor the two MARAM modules on Screening and Identification and Brief and Intermediate risk assessment and management.

Corrections Victoria

Corrections Victoria has undertaken targeted work towards building family violence capability.

Some examples include the following:

  • key cohorts of staff in women’s prisons and CCS have completed Common Risk Assessment and Management Framework (CRAF) training. This begins to build family violence literacy pending further MARAM-aligned training
  • Corrections Victoria has supported the development and launch of the DJCS Family Violence Foundational Training, building a shared understanding and literacy of family violence. More than 60 per cent of Corrections Victoria metro-based employees have completed the training in the reporting period
  • all current CCS case management learning pathways have been mapped with a view to building MARAM content into sustainable development programs
  • workforce mapping has been done to identify workforces needing to undertake family violence and MARAM education and development relevant to their roles and responsibilities

Corrections Victoria is focusing training in the next reporting period, including:

  • a consultative process to develop customised statewide MARAM training for staff who have different levels of MARAM responsibility
  • testing and piloting practice tools and guidance in CCS where content and education can be absorbed into current day to day activities
  • completing detailed scoping of education and training approaches and options for prisons (including collaborating with private prisons) Offender Management Division and CCS including the costs implications
  • integrating changes into existing CCS case management learning modules with the Corrections Victoria Learning and Development Branch

Victim Support programs

Approximately 50 Victim Support staff across specialist and non-specialist areas attended the DJCS Foundational Family Violence Training facilitated by the Office of the Family Violence Principal Practitioner (OFVPP).

Customised training including introductory MARAM training has also been developed for Victims Helpline staff and funded organisations under the Victims Assistance Program, as well as training to support the piloting of a new online risk assessment tool.

As the intake point for male victims of family violence, Victim Support has worked with OFVPP to conduct training which identifies and responds to predominant aggressors.


The Courts have tailored content and messaging from the MARAM Leading Alignment training to suit the Court environment, and this is being delivered to leadership groups within the Courts and their funded agencies.

A family violence e-learning module for all staff was introduced in 2018. The e-learning module focuses on the nature and dynamics of family violence and is located on the Courts’ online learning portal for all Court Services Victoria staff to access. The module is now compulsory for staff.

During the next reporting period, the Courts will complete a training needs analysis of all staff. Staff will attend a mixture of internal and external training on MARAM. Additionally, the Courts will tailor the two MARAM modules on Screening and Identification and Brief and Intermediate risk assessment and management.

Accredited training

In implementing MARAM, as well as providing training to upskill the current workforce, it is essential for long-term success that MARAM is built into pre-service qualifications for professionals that work within prescribed organisations. The Royal Commission found there are limited workforce training programs available and a lack of accredited education and training for primary prevention and response practitioners.

An appropriate strategy for ensuring consistent baseline knowledge and capabilities underpinning these skill sets and practice settings is critical, and consideration of mandatory minimum qualifications will be considered as part of the Building from strength: 10 year industry plan. As part of the initial steps to embed MARAM aligned family violence training, FSV is:

  • mapping all family violence and prevention related training already underway
  • supporting DET-led development of new accredited family violence and primary prevention units of competency
  • investing in developing and delivering training to meet immediate upskilling needs (non-accredited training)

Units of competency aligned with MARAM

DET is leading the development of accredited units of competency aligned with MARAM and based on key capabilities for preventing and responding to family violence set out in the Preventing family violence and violence against women and Responding to family violence capability frameworks, which were released in late 2017.

The first unit (22510VIC Course in Identifying and Responding to Family Violence Risk) was accredited in early 2019. It covers the foundational knowledge under the Responding to family violence capability framework, as well as those MARAM responsibilities held by all workforces. It is expected that delivery of this unit will commence in 2019–20.

Government is engaging with TAFEs and other Registered Training Organisations to ensure the units are offered as electives within qualifications that feed in to the workforces of framework organisations.

A further immediate priority is ensuring the trainers delivering MARAM training have the right skills and experience.

MARAM is being embedded in a range of relevant qualifications

Dardi Munwurro, in partnership with RMIT and the Healing Foundation, was funded to develop the Diploma in Community Services Family Violence and Healing, which will be aligned with MARAM.

This will improve the qualifications of professionals working with Aboriginal clients who use violence or are victim survivors of family violence. It will be a service response that is culturally safe and responsive, recognising Aboriginal understandings of family violence and rights to self-determination and self-management, in line with Principle 7 of MARAM.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

CAV is investigating the most appropriate mechanisms to embed MARAM identification and screening training in future accredited Financial Counsellor Program and Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program training, specifically the Financial Counselling Diploma.


Courts have completed an initial review of the current family violence training provided to trainee court registrars as part of their Certificate IV in Government (Court Services). The Certificate IV is a prerequisite qualification to become a court registrar. Changes to the training include incorporating the MARAM evidenced-based risk factors and establishing consistent processes and understanding of the information sharing schemes.

Specialist Family Violence Courts are being rolled out in five locations in response to Recommendation 61 of the Royal Commission which requires ‘The Victorian Government legislates to ensure that, subject to exceptional circumstances and the interests of the parties, all family violence matters are heard and determined in specialist family violence courts [within five years].’

Work is underway to ensure these Courts are aligned with MARAM.

The Judicial College of Victoria has commenced intensive multidisciplinary training for the five Specialist Family Violence Court locations as they get closer to implementation. Over the three-day program, the comprehensive training covers key MARAM content, including a shared understanding of family violence and best practice communication, working with diversity in the family violence system and partnerships in multidisciplinary practice.